The Snug Opaque Quotidian

The Snug Opaque Quotidian

Kevin Stevens

Some critics thought John Updike ‘a minor novelist with a major style’, a misjudgement which may be based on a doctrinaire rejection of the suburban middle class life which was his material and which he represented in all its fullness and lushness, ‘giving the mundane its beautiful due’.

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Hair of the Dog?

Hair of the Dog?

Michael O’Sullivan

Europe is a conglomeration of different economic models, whose various recessions have been provoked by disparate causes requiring distinct remedies. As in a hospital ward where one patient suffers from a broken leg, another gout and another cancer, a common treatment will fail to cure the majority of patients.

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Unhappy Warrior

Unhappy Warrior

Ivor Roberts

George Kennan formulated the key strategy of containment of Russia which guided the West through the Cold War but he became increasingly out of step with the interventionist instincts of successive US presidents. While he was greatly honoured, his desire for a more modest, inward-looking America did not find an echo among policy-makers.

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In From the Cold

John O’Brennan

As Ireland set about applying to join the EEC in the 1950s the anti-British discourse on which Irish nationalism relied began to look rather specious, set against the evidence of our overwhelming economic dependence on the UK: this was an asymmetrical relationship like no other in Europe.

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Hostage to Fortune

George O'Brien

Brendan Behan’s brief, self-destructive moment in the American spotlight is a cautionary tale of excess. But we should also ask in whose interest was the myth of the man created? And what need did the wild Irishman fulfil for the American media and its audience?

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Erdoğan Passes the Symplegades

Joseph Burke

Turkish writers remain vitally engaged with politics as the nation is reshaped and the population divided by the polarising President Erdoğan. Their analyses go deeper than Western interpretations of Erdoğan as simply another Islamist demagogue, and they protest in the hope of reconciliation and the restoration of secularism.

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Nobody’s Perfect

Frank Freeman

The Stoic philosopher Seneca offered useful advice on self-mastery, how to deal with the passage of time and the vanity of acquisitiveness. If he did not always live up to the highest ideals himself, it can at least be said in his defence that he lived in difficult times.

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Let’s Forget

Connal Parr

A new book seems to favour the consigning of savage episodes in Spain’s twentieth century to oblivion, but there is always a good case to be made for remembering properly, not least that it poses a challenge to remembering badly, or falsifying, to keep conflict and bitterness alive.

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Utopia Postponed

Shane Barry

If the financial relationship between the US and Europe after World War Two can be symbolised by the Marshall Plan pumping billions of dollars across the Atlantic to a ruined Europe, the flow of cash in the decade after 1918 was far from being one-way.

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Unquiet Graves, Unsettled Accounts

Jeremy Kearney

Between 1926 and 1951, the average number of people confined in industrial schools, reformatories, Magdalene laundries, county homes, mother and baby homes or mental institutions in Ireland was 31,500, or one per cent of the population.

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The Big Smoke

Jim Smyth

A comprehensive new study of Ireland’s capital bridges social and cultural, political, economic, educational, administrative, demographic, maritime, infrastructural and architectural histories of the city and deals as easily with the world of the locked out and the urban poor as it does with the Kildare Street Club, the Shelbourne and Jammet’s

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Hanging Out With The Molecules

Andrew Lees

The early 1950s voyages of William S Burroughs to Peru led to his discovery of the hallucinogenic vine yagé and issued in a book of notes and letters to his friend Allen Ginsberg in which he presented himself not only as a mystic and spiritual quester but also as a whistleblower on the activities of the Cold War superpowers.

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The word from the trenches

Derek Scally

On its publication in book form in Germany in 1929, this great anti-war novel met with both critical and popular success. But in 1933 it was to receive the ultimate accolade when it was tossed onto the bonfires by Nazi students from Berlin’s Humboldt University, along with the works of Heine, Marx, Einstein and the Mann brothers.

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Tell me about your Mother

Susan McCallum Smith

Nuala Ní Chonchúir’s new novel portrays the challenge of being both mother and artist, its most interesting character an emotionally abusive alcoholic for whom motherhood has not been enough and who dares to suggest it is possible for a mother to feel ambivalence toward her child.

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God is Dead, Long Live Religion

Matthew Parkinson-Bennett

According to Terry Eagleton, the history of the modern age is among other things the search for a viceroy for God. Yet it has been difficult for any substitute to emulate religion’s success, to bridge the gap, as it does, between high and low, elite and masses, rarefied ideas and common practice.

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Leaping into Darkness

Cormac Ó Gráda

After a decade of modest growth, in 1958 the Chinese authorities launched the Great Leap Forward, a reckless campaign aimed at greatly accelerating economic development. What resulted was, in terms of the number of its victims, the greatest famine ever.

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Epiphanies and Voids

Pádraig Murphy

Attention to the apparently insignificant is a particular feature of Japanese art. It is an aspect of Zen’s emphasis on giving attention not to theory or to abstract truth, but to concrete, existing reality, the here and now.

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The Utility of Inquiry

Nicholas Canny

Many of the challenges put forward to ‘pure’ research in the humanities have been mounted before – by Jeremy Bentham and his followers – in the nineteenth century. They were also quite eloquently answered, by the likes of Arnold, Ruskin, Newman and John Stuart Mill.

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No poppy, please

Pádraig Yeates

If it is true, as many people in Ireland now seem to believe, that First World War combatants were unjustly forgotten, Ireland may not have been the only place where that happened. But perhaps the war was forgotten because people deeply and desperately wanted to forget it.

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Friends and Elegies

Florence Impens

Michael Longley’s new collection invites us to consider and accept the presence of death within life, and their interconnectedness, which modern society often tends to forget. It is, however, far from being a dark volume.

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New Poems

Gerald Dawe

These four new poems by Gerald Dawe are from Mickey Finn’s Air, to be published later this year by Gallery Press

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Living through Extermination

James Wickham

The concentration camps were extermination camps: when prisoners were not immediately murdered, they were subjected to a regime few could long survive. Yet this is not so unprecedented in human history. Eighteenth century slaves were not only routinely subjected to the most sadistic punishments but also worked to death.

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Turn Down That Racket

Sean L’Estrange

Mike Goldsmith's engaging grand tour of the world of noise takes us from the (silent) "Big Bang" and the general quiet of pre-historic times to contemporary problems of noise pollution. An enjoyable read, full of insight and wit, it is a model of what popular science writing should do.

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Britain and Ireland Begin

Rory McTurk

Two studies of early British history and prehistory and of a roughly equivalent period in Ireland leave the reader in no doubt as to how closely interrelated the two countries are, and indeed have been from time immemorial.

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Is the Pope a Communist?

Angela Nagle

Some people are impressed by the apparent humility of Pope Francis and his objections to market capitalism. But should the left regard him as an ally or is socialism not more about production and plenty than simplicity and austerity?

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But I Live in Dublin

Sean Sheehan

The Dublin Notebook, appearing as the seventh volume in OUP’s collected Hopkins, is an exemplary work of scholarship and from now any serious piece of writing about the last phase of Hopkins’s life will rely on and be grateful for the painstaking work of its two editors.

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One Onion, Many Layers

Maurice Earls

Irish Catholic social elites, emerging confidently after the ebb of British anti-Catholicism in the nineteenth century, increasingly sent their children to schools, both in England and in Ireland, created on the public school model. There some of them learned that the highest duty of a gentleman was to play the game.

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Response

Bill Kautt

A letter from Bill Kautt in response to a recent review of his book: Ground Truths: British Army Operations in the Irish War of Independence.

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The Shining River

Kevin Stevens

A chapter-length extract from Kevin Stevens’s new novel, an urban crime drama about money, race, and class set in Kansas City in the 1930s.

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Response to Review

 The author  of Massacre in West Cork maintains that Gerard Murphy’s review contains many errors. The author, Barry Keane, also argues that the reviewer engages in crass speculation regarding his motives.

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Janus-Faced Europe

It is now in the interests of the EU to set about calming the bear at its door, convincing the Russians that mutual respect and trade is in everyone’s interest and that no one will benefit from a new great game conducted in Eastern Europe.

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Look! No Wheels!

The Cold War, or at least the First Cold War, is now long over. Curiously, it ended without a war. Afterwards, the US global hegemony that some predicted failed to materialise. As in other areas, victories in history don’t always amount to as much as was expected. Meanwhile the debate seeking a credible explanation for the implosion of the Soviet Union continues.

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Statue-breaking

When an empire ends and a country becomes independent the imperial soldiers leave - but the visible heritage they have left behind is sometimes found to be disturbing or unacceptable.

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Wandering Jews

The late historian Tony Judt rose from a poor London Jewish background to become a world-renowned scholar and political thinker. Would he have achieved the same had he been born in Ireland, where his father shipped up in the 1930s?

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It's the real thing

Colm Toibin's new novel, Nora Webster, has been garnering some very high praise from the critics.

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Speaka Da Eengleesh

Why is it that so much 'excellence' is to be found in the university sector in the English-speaking world, and so little elsewhere?

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A Pot of Gold

Paul Laurence Dunbar was considered the most promising African American writer at the turn of the twentieth century. A musical for which he wrote the lyrics was performed in Dublin 110 years ago.

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Give us your ould Lingo

A spoken word festival, a first for Dublin, comes to the city later this month.

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Siegfried Lenz: 1926-2014

German novelist Siegfried Lenz, who has died aged 88, was a political collaborator of Günter Grass and a champion of reconciliation between Germany and the countries it had devastated in the Second World War.

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It's Poetry: Read it Out Loud

A new anthology of poetry for young people with links to through smartphone or tablet to recordings will make the best Christmas present - evvah.

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Please Mister Postman

The British knew quite a bit in advance about the intentions of the IRB before 1916. One of their most valuable informants was a man called 'Redmond'.

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Love as a principle, order as its base

In advance of the first round of Brazil’s presidential election, Tom Hennigan reflects on the significance of the country’s unusual ‘retro-futurist’ national flag and in particular of its famous motto celebrating order and progress.

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Fighting over the flag

Some sections of unionist opinion fought a rearguard action after Irish independence, though harassed by Sinn Fein in particular. God Save The Queen was sung at the horse show at the RDS even in the late 1940s.

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The thickness of books

Books are a different class of object, argues Toby Munday, profoundly unlike magazines, newspapers, blogs, games or social media sites. They will be damaged if they are treated as if they are the same.

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Are you dancin'? Are you askin'?

You put your right leg in, your right leg out. In, out, in, out. You shake it all about. You do the Hokey Cokey and you turn around. That's what it's all about.

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Look at the birds of the air

Gilbert White, an 18th century country parson and naturalist, wrote in sumptuous detail of the animal and bird life he observed around him. Here he is on the varieties of birdsong.

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The Literary Racket

Edgar Allan Poe was resolutely unimpressed by the modus operandi of the press, and in particular those sections of it in which literary opinions were offered and books reviewed.

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Flattering the people

If, as politicians like to assert, the people aren't stupid, why do we have a word for it? Surely it wasn't coined just for Afghan hounds.

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Monkey Business

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu met the divil on the bus. Very freaky.

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New Books

Ireland 1912 - 1922

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Irish Literature

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World Literature

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Irish History & Politics

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World History & Politics

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Irish Culture, Philosophy & Science

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World Culture, Philosophy & Science

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